Social Media: Great Campaign Tool, but Bad News for Democracy

By now, we have all read about and analyzed Donald Trump’s (in)famous Cinco de Mayo tweet, which featured a picture of him grinning broadly while eating a taco bowl, with the following tweet: “Happy #CincoDeMayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!” Twitter and other media outlets reacted swiftly to the tweet, mostly ridiculing Trump and criticizing his attempt to reach out to Hispanic voters. With his characteristic insult, Trump managed to win yet another news cycle and add to the nearly $2 billion free media advantage he has gathered so far.


Trump’s not-so-subtle outreach effort and the publicity it gathered, is an example of the evolving tactics of campaigns in an election year that some media outlets have labeled the “social media election.” Media reports cite polls showing that more and more people are keeping up with the election via social media. Polls also show that twice the number of registered voters follow politicians on social media as compared to 2010. Scholars have found evidence that campaigns are taking advantage of these trends and using social media, especially Twitter, to fundraise, spread information about their candidates, spar with opponents, control the media agenda, and organize volunteers and activists.

Though studies on the impact of social media on elections have found that social media has limited impact on election outcomes, candidates continuously use Twitter as a campaign tool. Election tweets mainly focus on information—facts, issues, opinion and news—and attempt to portray the candidate as an everyday, relatable person. Along with positive, image-building tweets, campaign tweets often use heavy attack appeals, usually juxtaposed with links to external media outlets, to add credibility to these negative tweets.

While social media is undoubtedly helpful for candidates who have low name recognition (usually challengers), these social media campaigns come with a set of unique drawbacks. Platforms like Twitter, where comments trend for very short amounts of time, tend to favor extrovert candidates. Twitter favors candidates who can make the most outrageous comments. Instead of knowledgeable opinions based on facts, Twitter statements are designed to provoke the most number of reactions from followers and journalists.

In fact, social media campaigns may not be beneficial for democracy. Take the example of political discussion. A healthy democracy depends on a free marketplace of ideas. Though Twitter gives users the illusion of interactivity and connectedness with the world, a large portion of this connection and interactivity is scripted and tightly controlled by campaigns. Since campaign managers aim to maintain a tight control on their message, they avoid engaging in genuine deliberation with citizens over social media, as this would make them lose control of the message and force the candidate to take firm policy positions. On one hand, Twitter enables candidates to connect directly with citizens, thereby helping message to reach citizens without the involvement of a third party, but on the other hand, deliberation, if any, remains superficial and confined to 140 characters.

Social media campaigns also minimize the impact of the media’s fact checking function. Candidates can simply ignore the media’s fact checking attempts and repeat erroneous messages to their followers on social media. In an age of increasing polarization and media fragmentation, this could widen the gap between voters on each side and lead to further negativity and loss of political efficacy.

About the Author:  Newly Paul is Assistant Professor of Communication at Appalachian State University. Her research focuses on political advertising, political communication, and race and gender in politics. Her website is


Sir Edmund and Hillary: A Surprisingly Likely Pair

MPSAblog_Smith_BurkeMainstream political scientists often struggle with the subfield called political theory. Otherwise known as normative theory or political philosophy, theory is the study of history, philosophy, and values. It made up the bulk of political science before the data-driven “behavioral revolution” (.pdf) of the twentieth century. Today’s empirical, or data-based political scientists are often flummoxed by normative theory, preferring instead to simply let it continue in its own world, on a parallel track largely ignored by others in the discipline.

This is a shame, because the insights of these history- and values-based approaches to studying politics can inform not only political science, but contemporary politics as well.

As a case in point, consider the ideas of Edmund Burke, an eighteenth-century English-Irish statesman whose writings are now considered part of the “canon,” or collection of most-cited authors in the humanities, philosophy, and political theory. Burke’s traditionalist, conservative biographers would likely be horrified to read this, but I keep thinking about Burke whenever I read about Hillary Clinton.

I am not suggesting that Hillary has the same politics as Burke; not at all. What they share instead is a certain attitude. At its best, this attitude is characterized by a skepticism of drastic change and an appreciation for careful deliberation. At its worst, it can be arrogant and aloof.

Burke was a crotchety old-school member of parliament who was known for his opposition to revolution and skepticism of democracy. He is most famous for being aghast at the French Revolution and predicting that it would lead to the rise of a dictator—which it did. He also argued that it was more important for legislators to represent the interest of their districts than to make the right to vote universal, and developed the well-known trustee approach (.pdf) to representation. Unlike the delegate style, trustees do not poll their constituents or hold town hall meetings in order to decide how to vote on key issues. They follow their own judgment, only later returning home to explain their decisions and sit for re-election. In my own research, I once met a trustee legislator who told me,

“My district elects me because of who I am, to come down here and make some decisions. If you’re going to elect somebody that’s going to take a poll, then you don’t need me down here. And so that’s my attitude.”

That’s a good deal less wordy than Burke, but it captures some of the same ideas about representation—the representative knows best, the popular passions are often wrong, and it takes time and deliberation for the truth to emerge. In 1780, Burke told his electors in Bristol:

“I did not obey your instructions: No. I conformed to the instructions of truth and nature, and maintained your interest, against your opinions, with a constancy that became me. I am to look, indeed, to your opinions, but to such opinions as you and I must have five years hence.”

Burke is also known for being haughty and long-winded: a stereotypical British statesman, like something out of a Monty Python skit. Once, when I gave a match-the-quote-to-the-author quiz, one snarky student commented, “It was long, and I didn’t understand it, so it must be Burke.”

The student had marked the correct answer.

Burke was so removed from the affairs of his district that he lost re-election after only a single, elected term in parliament (he served earlier on a Royal appointment). Yet Burke also had powerful insights. In addition to predicting Napoleon’s rise, he also had a strongly compassionate streak, railing against British abuses in Ireland, America, and India. Burke could not get enough people to listen to his concerns on these issues, and as we now know, he was right about all three.

At his best, Burke was a healthy skeptic: deliberative and a good prognosticator. At his worst, he was arrogant, aloof, and not always pro-democratic. In other words, while conservative hagiographers may scoff, Burke was at least a little bit like Hillary.

Clinton is the only major presidential candidate who cannot even plausibly distance herself from this year’s favorite political punching bag: “the establishment.” This is because, far more than Burke was, she is the establishment—part of it, anyway.  She is well-connected to other politicians, non-elected government officials, leaders overseas, and monied interests, and she makes no attempt to hide that. At her best, her policy pronouncements are careful and measured—a stark contrast to the aggressive, change-the-world-in-one-go plans of her opponents on both the left and the right. Hillary is also pragmatic, with a strongly compassionate streak.  At her worst, she appears clueless, for example holding a high-dollar fundraiser with Hollywood celebrities while her opponent Bernie Sanders wins caucus after caucus by attacking her on these very campaign finance issues.

Few question Hillary’s qualifications to be President, but her occasional stumbles into let-them-eat-cake territory bring to mind Burke’s inability to connect with his constituents. Critics of my comparison will call Hillary untrustworthy, which was apparently not a problem for Burke. Yet I question how objective this judgment is—one recent analysis showed that Hillary’s campaign-trail quotes are in fact the most truthful of any presidential candidate. Her trust problem is not dishonesty on the stump, but rather the voters’ uneasy sense that she is entitled, part of an elite club which does not “get” why some of her actions would offend regular people. Of course, some of this is also because of her husband, still a major public figure and a maddening study in contradictions some sixteen years after leaving the White House. Hillary has to earn trust in her own right.

Earnest Barker wrote the following about Burke:

“His normal belief of the union of minds was confined to a narrow circle, and the area of discussion was an area of the elite. He hardly regarded himself as engaged in discussion with the people of Bristol, or the people of Bristol as engaged in discussion with him…”

In my own essay (.pdf), I wrote the following

“In attempting to define representation by doing it, Burke fell short. He did not develop an effective home style grounded in representative-represented interactions.”

As an experienced, qualified candidate, the likely Democratic nominee and quite possibly our next President (and first-ever female President), Hillary and her supporters would do well to take heed of these warnings. Hillary has to convince voters that she can listen and connect at our level. Being a pragmatic centrist is not enough. She has to earn trust as a representative of the people: something with which she still struggles, and which Burke also failed to do successfully.

Learning from Sir Edmund’s mistakes may just help Hillary ascend to the summit of American politics.

About the author: Michael A. Smith is a Professor of Political Science at Emporia State University where he teaches classes on state and local politics, campaigns and elections, political philosophy, legislative politics, and nonprofit management. Smith has contributed to multiple media outlets and is also a blogger for the 2016 MPSA conference in Chicago. Follow Smith on Twitter.


Tough Enough? National Security Issues Could Affect the 2016 U.S. Presidential Race

NEW YORK CITY – MARCH 2, 2016: Hillary Rodham Clinton affirmed her status as front-runner for the Democratic presidential nominations with a speech at Jacob Javits Center.

Following the November 2015 Paris and Beirut terrorist attacks, and the more recent bombings in Brussels and Pakistan, terrorism threats and national security issues have become one of the most talked about topics in the presidential elections. While Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have hardened their rhetoric and called for bans on Muslim immigrants, increased vigilance in Muslim neighborhoods, and torture for extracting information, Hillary Clinton has maintained a starkly different approach. In her speeches, she has called for reinforcing alliances with other nations, asked for help from the technology sector in fighting terrorism, and expressed sympathy for the victims of the attacks. Her calm, reasoned tone is in sharp contrast to the provocative and incendiary language used by the Republican candidates. This raises the question whether Clinton’s strategy of restraint is useful.

Research on women in politics indicates that when national security issues are at the forefront, voters tend to prefer men candidates to women. As Holman et al. (2016) find, voters show most preference for male Republican leadership and least preference for female Democratic leadership. Anxiety and fear about terrorism encourages voters to employ a gender stereotypic lens to evaluate candidates. According to the gender stereotypes literature, the office of the president is generally considered “male” because historically no woman has ever held the office, and issues such as national security, foreign policy, economy and employment that are associated with the office, are considered male areas of expertise. During times of fear and uncertainty, voters tend to prefer the agentic qualities associated with men than the empathic qualities associated with women.

The Republican Party has often used these stereotypes to their advantage. For example, in the 2014 midterm elections in Georgia, Kentucky and North Carolina, the party aired about 60 terrorism related ads, targeted mostly at women Democrat rivals. Similarly, Trump’s ad juxtaposed images of Russian president Vladimir Putin behaving in a threatening manner with Clinton’s femininity to indicate that Clinton is weak and unfit for office solely because of her gender.

Research indicates that women candidates suffer a “double bind” that hinders them from employing toughness in their speech or actions. When women act tough, they’re punished for violating gender stereotypes, but when they hold off on the tough talk, they’re perceived as incompetent.

So far Clinton’s strategy has been to portray herself as a viable alternative to the Republican candidates. Unlike the typical woman candidate, she is a well-known political figure who has held office, established her foreign policy credentials, and enjoys the mainstream media’s support. In her speeches she has been promoting her experience and foreign policy credentials, criticizing her rivals from the Republican Party without using provocative rhetoric, and focusing on finding solutions. This could be an effective strategy in combating stereotypes. Indeed, recent research indicates that gender stereotypes do not hurt the electoral chances of women candidates as much as indicated in previous studies. While the GOP is embroiled in public shows of sexism and irresponsible bluster, voters could perceive Clinton as a welcome alternative. Terrorism and the GOP’s gender war could translate into a win for Clinton.

About the Author:  Newly Paul is Assistant Professor of Communication at Appalachian State University. Her research focuses on political advertising, political communication, and race and gender in politics. Her website is

Will the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election Be a Realigning Election?

MPSABlog_Smith_RealigningElectionIn his classic book Dynamics of the Party System, James L. Sundquist developed a theory of how party alignments change around new issues. As a winner-take-all system, (also called “first past the post” or FPTP), the U.S. is hard-wired to have only two dominant parties at a time. However, one party can disappear, as did the Whigs when slavery realigned the party system before the Civil War. Alternately, labels and some supporters of the existing parties can remain, but along a new line of separation on a key issue, which Sundquist calls cleavage. For example, the Civil Rights Movement accelerated a shift in the party alignment, with African-Americans and white liberals lining up solidly behind the Democrats instead of being split as before, and white Southerners defecting to the Republican Party.

Sundquist sets forth five criteria for realignment:

  1. Breadth and Depth of the Underlying Grievance
    Trump’s signature issue is immigration, Sanders’ is breaking up big banks. Sanders hits a nerve: the 2009 bank bailout bill passed Congress easily and was supported by both major-party Presidential nominees  despite being massively unpopular with the American people.

    On the other side, Trump’s base is older, working class whites with a high-school education or less. These voters took a terrible beating in the Great Recession. Trump’s appeal seems to pin blame on government officials, other business leaders besides himself, and, most notably, immigrants for colluding to deny American citizens better opportunities.

  2. Capacity to Provoke Resistance
    Here, the case for either Sanders or Trump being agents of realignment is less clear. As Sundquist notes, “The strength and determination of the resistance depend directly, however, not on the grievance but on the remedy proposed.” Will voters warm en masse to Sanders’ democratic-socialist policies including a tax on financial transactions to pay for his proposals? On the other hand, outside the hot-button issue of immigration, Trump’s policy positions are non-ideological and hard to nail down.
  3. Leadership
    Sundquist writes that existing party leaders can head off realignment if they “have the skill and motivation to handle the issue in a way that will check the growth of the polar blocs, and if the issue is the kind that allows such handling…

    Sanders’ opponent Hillary Clinton is working furiously to brand herself as a progressive. If Clinton is the nominee, one of the challenges she and her supporters face is how to incorporate Sanders’ base and their ideas into the party. One such overture is her proposal to more aggressively-enforce the Dodd-Frank law as an alternative to breaking up banks.

    Republicans appear to be in more disarray. With a handful of exceptions, most Republican leaders have no intention of helping Trump if he wins the nomination. The conservative standard-bearing National Review magazine dedicated an entire issue to denouncing Trump.

    Trump’s positions on immigration and Islam are more extreme, but not on the opposite side of most Republicans. Yet Trump also supports bank and auto-industry bailouts, a massively expensive public-works project building a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico (nearly 2000 miles), national health insurance, and a host of other expensive government programs and interventions in the market that could hardly be called conservative. Meanwhile, he ignores other conservative hot-button issues like abortion rights.

    In short, so far the Republican Party has not been successful at co-opting Trump’s issues and his supporters.

  4. Division of the Polar Forces Between Parties
    Democrats are decidedly more pro-immigrant than Republicans. However, there is a minority in each party that disagrees—most notably, 31 percent of Republicans believe immigrants make society better, while, on another dimension, 34 percent of Democrats believe immigrants make the economy worse. There is certainly fodder for a partisan realignment.

    Sanders’ issue with the banks definitely hits a sore nerve. Just 26 percent of Americans express confidence in banks — a huge drop from previous decades and reflective of a general distrust of other institutions. Is this strong enough to drive voter behavior? One problem: as noted above, Americans may split over solutions — Republicans are much more likely to identify government regulations as part of problem, yet Sanders’ proposed solutions involve additional regulations and enforcement. Thus the issue tends to break along existing party lines rather than reshape them.

  5. Strength of Existing Party Attachments
    If Trump and Sanders share one thing, it is their outcry against “the establishment.” Yet, the candidates are hardly mirror images of one another. As Nate Silver points out, Sanders is largely working to push the Democratic Party to the left along the existing left-right spectrum, whereas Trump is “all over the place” on other issues besides immigration. In short, Trump’s supporters are more likely to scramble the existing ideological divide.

In conclusion, here are some key questions for thought:

  • If Hillary Clinton is nominated, how effective will she be at incorporating Bernie Sanders’ issues and supporters into the party?
  • If the Democratic Party moves to the left, either by nominating Bernie Sanders or by co-opting some of his issues, will the “only centrists can win” conventional wisdom prove to be a debunked historical artifact, or the simple-math reality of every election?
  • Will the U.S. party system realign along the issue of immigration?
  • Is Donald Trump’s support idiosyncratic, or is it revealing a deep political cleavage that cuts across existing party lines?
  • If the party system does realign, will pro-immigration Republicans feel comfortable defecting to the Democratic Party, particularly given the push by Sanders supporters to move left on other issues?
  • While third parties are a hard sell in any FPTP system, might the U.S. develop a smaller but potentially tie-breaking third party like the British Liberal Democrats, who also exist under winner-take-all rules? Which party would lose more supporters to the new party? Would the new system mobilize those currently not voting or voting infrequently?
  • Will this year’s raucous caucuses (and primaries) lead to a re-thinking of the direct primary/caucus system, in which a small minority of passionate participants choose party nominees that may be out of step with most voters?

It may be too soon to predict a political realignment, but at the very least, the USA’s current two-party system is certainly experiencing disruptive shocks this year.

About the author: Michael A. Smith is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Emporia State University where he teaches classes on state and local politics, campaigns and elections, political philosophy, legislative politics, and nonprofit management. Smith has contributed to multiple media outlets and is also a blogger for the 2016 MPSA conference in Chicago. Follow Smith on Twitter.

Primaries and Caucuses 2016: Experiencing the Energy and Demystifying the Math

INDIANOLA, IA – FEBRUARY 1, 2016: Indianola mayor Kelly Shaw (second from right) and Smith’s Emporia State University students at the Iowa caucus. (Photo courtesy: Michael A. Smith)

The 2016 Primary/Caucus season started this week in snowy Iowa, and my students and I were there to see it. Eight Emporia State students and one alumnus joined me for the trip.  Dr. Kelly Shaw, mayor of Indianola and a political scientist at Iowa State University, hosted us for a night observing both Democratic and GOP caucuses on the campus of Simpson College. One group of my students watched the Democrats vote, while another group observed the Republicans.

Students were struck by the differences between the voting procedures. The Republican process opened with a prayer, then featured speeches by advocates for the different candidates. Finally, caucus-goers voted for their preferred candidates on a paper ballot, the votes were tallied, results were announced, and that was that. Marco Rubio was the big winner in Warren County, despite the fact that no one spoke on his behalf beforehand. Afterwards, party stalwarts stayed to choose various, local party officials for the coming year.  We would later learn that Rubio and Ted Cruz each had a good night in Iowa.

The Democrats were more raucous. While the Republicans were seated, the Democrats had chairs only for those with disabilities. Others stood, re-grouping themselves based upon which candidate they were supporting. Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats re-allocated supporters based on a threshold. The candidate (Martin O’Malley) with too few supporters was eliminated and his supporters invited to join either the Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton crowd, with supporters of each cheering and chanting for their side. Undecided caucus-goers were also asked to choose a side between the two candidates who reached the viability threshold. In the end, the precinct we observed had 83 Sanders supporters and 61 for Clinton. Due to rounding, each got two delegates. As with their GOP counterparts downstairs, most caucus-goers left once this was announced, with only the hard-core remaining to vote on local party officials and other matters afterward. The students later elected to go to a Bernie Sanders rally where his supporters cheered, booed, anxiously watched returns, and waited for their candidate to speak.  In the end, it was the closest presidential caucus in Iowa history.

Delegate Selection

The differences in delegate selection between the two parties have real consequences.  Recalling Arrow’s Theorem—roughly summarized as proving that no system of counting votes always assures a fair outcome—the different vote-counting mechanisms can affect who becomes President of the United States. For example, Barack Obama won enough delegates to be the Democratic nominee in 2008 despite Hillary Clinton’s slim edge in the popular vote.  This year, the parties (particularly the Republicans) have changed the process yet again.

On the Democratic side, the process is detailed here. In sum, each state is awarded delegates based upon a formula using the following factors:

  • The votes that the Democratic presidential nominee received in 2004, 2008, and 2012.
  • The state’s electoral votes.
  • Bonus votes for states that hold their primaries or caucuses later in the cycle.
  • Additional bonus votes if neighboring states also hold their primaries or caucuses later.

The Democrats require all states to use the proportional-representation-with-threshold system that my students observed in Iowa. Democrats also have “superdelegates,” who are Democratic elected officials and other DNC members in the states.

The Republican system has changed significantly since 2008. While the GOP has stopped short of directly requiring the use of proportional representation to assign delegates, they have greatly restricted the use of winner-take-all allocation, compared to previous elections. Now, only late-voting (after March 15) states are allowed to use winner-take-all, that is, to allocate all of the state’s delegates to a state’s one highest vote-getter in the primaries. When it comes to allocating the delegates among the states, the GOP process is detailed here. In short, the GOP formula for assigning delegates includes the following:

  • 10 at-large delegates per state, and 6 each for American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Additional delegates based upon how many U.S. House districts are in a state.
  • “Bonus delegates” for GOP elected officials: Governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and majority control in one or both chambers of the state legislature.
  • A penalty for holding primaries or caucuses earlier than called for in the official RNC rules.
  • Instead of “superdelegates,” RNC rules call for their members in the states, including certain elected officials, to be included in a state’s regular delegation to the party convention.

Comparing Party Processes

Political scientists are right in our wheelhouse when it comes to studying how these formulas work. Even a superficial glance at the differences above can be telling. For example, the Republicans penalize states for “jumping” the calendar, while the Democrats instead reward the states which vote later. The end result is that no state has deviated from the calendar in either party. For the Republicans, then, the sanctions do not apply to any state this year. For the Democrats, on the other hand, the extra delegates given for holding primaries or caucuses later may give late-voting states extra sway in choosing the nominee, if the race is not wrapped up by early March. In other words, the difference between the two parties’ rules means that the later-voting states could hold more sway in the Democratic race than in the GOP one.

The “nuts and bolts” of voting are often far more important in determining results than the latest insta-poll or a candidate’s embarrassing gaffe, but fundamentals are often overlooked in superficial media coverage. Political scientists can help those who are ready to go beyond the sensational and see what will really decide the next U.S. President. Is all of this too technical to hold our interest? Not according to my students. One even said, “It was probably one of the best nights of my life.”

About the author:  Michael A. Smith is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Emporia State University where he teaches classes on state and local politics, campaigns and elections, political philosophy, legislative politics, and nonprofit management. Smith has contributed to multiple media outlets and is also a blogger for the 2016 MPSA conference in Chicago.  Follow Smith on Twitter.

Gender and Emotions on the Campaign Trail

Hillary Clinton Testifies At Senate Confirmation Hearing
WASHINGTON – JANUARY 13, 2009: U.S. Secretary of State Nominee and incumbent U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

During a recent interview, when Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody asked Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump whether he cries, Trump replied that he is “not a big crier.” He said he likes “to get things done,” but is “not someone who goes around crying a lot.” His statement generated plenty of media coverage, mostly focusing on the underlying message of the statement—that criers cannot be doers, and by extension, might be unfit for the most powerful office of the country.

At another interview, talk show host Amanda de Cadenet asked Hillary Clinton how she processes all the emotion coming at her. “As a woman, in a high public position seeking the presidency as I am, you have to be aware of how people will judge you for being “emotional,” and so it’s a really delicate balancing act,” Clinton said. Her statement was particularly revealing, considering that in the past she has been criticized for her failure to show compassion and connect with voters at an emotional level.

The two contrary positions toward emotions from candidates who are both running for the highest office in the country can be attributed in part to gender dynamics in politics.

Voters tend to associate women with expressive qualities such as compassion, warmth, gentleness, and kindness, while men are associated with agentic qualities such as competitiveness, self-confidence, aggressive, ambition, independence, strength, and toughness.

As a result of these trait stereotypes, women are expected to be more competent in dealing with social issues such as education, welfare, and environment, which involve looking after the most vulnerable sections of society, while men are expected to be better at handling issues such as foreign policy, defense, and the economy, which require them to make decisions about the overall safety and security of the country and deal with threat. Since the office of the president is associated with “male” issues such as foreign policy, defense and the economy, it is often considered “masculine.”

In terms of emotions, considering that women have traditionally played the roles of nurturer and caregiver, they are commonly associated with emotions such as happiness, embarrassment, surprise, sadness, disgust, warmth, fear, anxiety, and shame. Men, on the other hand, are associated while anger, contempt, and pride.

Given the link between candidate gender and office, Clinton’s bid for the presidency puts her in direct odds with the stereotypes literature. If she portrays herself as a tough, no-nonsense leader, she could be upending the stereotypes associated with women candidates and creating dissonance in the minds of voters. On the other hand, portraying herself as too emotional would raise doubts about her appropriateness for the office of the president. She seems to be aware of the delicate balance between femininity and toughness that she needs to display in order to be successful. In her 2008 presidential bid, she largely shunned her feminine, emotional side, but in the 2016 campaign, she has tried to portray herself as a loving grandmother as well as a tough leader committed to issues of national security as well as reproductive rights. This strategy might help her successfully navigate the gendered aspect of the presidency.

About the Author:  Newly Paul is Assistant Professor of Communication at Appalachian State University. Her research focuses on political advertising, political communication, and race and gender in politics. Her website is